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Psychoanalysis: keynotes in analytical psychotherapy

Abstract: Psychoanalysis is the name of the method for psychotherapy developed by Sigmund Freud.

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Psychoanalysis: keynotes in analytical psychotherapy

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Written by: Petros Skapinakis
First version: 11 Nov 2003.
Latest revision: 18 Sep 2013.

What is psychoanalysis? What is psychoanalytic psychotherapy?


Psychoanalysis is the name of the form of therapy which was invented by Sigmund Freud. A common misconception is that psychoanalysis is the same as psychotherapy. Psychoanalysis should rather be seen as one of many possible methods of psychotherapy.

Psychoanalysis emphasizes experiences in childhood (especially the development in early childhood) and its importance for the personality and later psychological problems. Freud's classic theory was revised later by himself and his apprentices, but the central idea remains: human behaviour is largely governed by unconscious forces, which originate from primitive basic needs and not conscious thought or logic.

The psychoanalytically oriented psychotherapist trying to find a solution and offer help by raising awareness of the patient's unconscious conflicts and defense mechanisms, and how they form a resistance to change and development. By making the patient aware of these unconscious cognitive modules, the patient is given tools for personal development and maturity. The basic technique used is the free association, which means that the patient manifests all spontaneous thoughts. The therapist then interprets them based on psychoanalytic theory.

According to classical psychoanalysis patient and therapist meet about 1 hour up to 5 times a week, and the psychoanalytic therapy can last for many years.

Psychotherapy based on psychoanalytic ideas is often called psychodynamic therapy.

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